On Stage: Dragons At The Circus

I was very young when I first went to the circus and, as cliché as it sounds, I was frightened by the clowns. Then Batman came out and made it all better.

The next time I went to the circus it was a school outing and I remember spending most of the time goofing around with my friends rather than watching the show.

My wife assures me that a few years ago we took The Son to the circus during The Troubled Years and we didn’t stay long because this was during The Troubled Years and I have no memory of that event because, frankly, I’ve tried to erase all my memories of The Troubled Years.

Credit: FELD Entertainment

So when I got invited to see “Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents DRAGONS” I figured maybe it was time to give the circus another shot. After all, The Son is 21 now and The Troubled Years are long behind us. Maybe he would enjoy the circus now. Plus — Dragons! They’re like the dinosaurs of mythical fantasyland.

When we got to our seats there was a preshow taking place on the arena floor, with a bounce house, an elephant and clowns. We opted not to go down to the floor but instead I took The Son on a walk around the arena to wear him down for the sitting still for 2 hours that was to come.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents DRAGONS runs through Sunday at Scottrade Center. Credit: FELD Entertainment

The show was, well, a circus. There was an elephant act, a trapeze act, a horse act, guys on motorcycles riding around in a globe, a dog act, a high-wire motorcycle act, a lions-and-tigers act, a Shaolin monk act, women doing high-wire stunts while suspended by their hair — you know, a circus. The acts were very impressive and professional. There were a few stumbles, but the talent always got back up on the horse or the teeterboard until they got it right.

One of the things I remember about the circuses of my youth was the three-ring fiasco, where they have three different things going on at once. I hate that — I can’t watch three things at once. RBandB&B only resorted to that once, when they presented a cat act, a dog act and an exotic animal act all at once. It wasn’t hard to focus this time — what can a cat do? walk across a board? I spent most of the time watching the dogs.

There were two elements I didn’t care for. First up: the clowns. Now, I know it’s popular to dog on clowns and I really don’t have anything against clowns (I have a friend back home who’s a clown), I just don’t find them funny. Prancing around and doing falls while relying on sound effects to get a laugh doesn’t work for me.

I also don’t care for the whole “theme” business. When I go to the circus I want the ringmaster to come out and say “Here’s an act. Here’s an act. Here’s an act.” I don’t need some unifying story that somehow ties together elephants with Shaolin monks and women doing stretches while suspended high in the air in plastic bubbles.

Especially when that theme forces me to listen to the same song sang four or five times over the course of the show. However, it was a pretty cool dragon that comes out for the finale.

All in all, an entertaining time. The Son seemed to enjoy it, especially the music.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Presents DRAGONS runs through Sunday at Scottrade Center. http://scottradecenter.com/


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